Next weekend the Psych Night collective will be taking their subtly curated celebrations of psychedelia into the great outdoors for their first full, three-day festival, Endless Daze.
Taking place a mere 45 minutes outside of Cape Town on the seaside at Silwerstroom, the team are putting the final touches on a showcase of music where their core values of attention to detail and sonic immersion are, once again, made paramount.
But what makes the Cape Town-based Psych Night crew tick? They have thrown countless smaller inner-city psych parties around the country, and in doing so, have supported the growth of a really exciting psych scene in South Africa. In addition, they have thrown four major foreigner-headlined tours, introducing bands such as Night Beats, Golden Animals, Allah Las and Black Lips to our shores; and yet none of them would have anticipated ever getting to this point. Simon Berndt, one of the partners, briefly ruminates on how far they have come since “the first party we did, which was a tiny little DJ party at LB’s with like 30 people.” Yet, even then at those tiny events, they got the sense that they were “onto something.”
That something, however, did not just take shape overnight. Micah Donnoli and Mark Reitz’ nods of endorsement are noted as Simon speaks about the similar levels of dedication found across the five founders, and how they have discovered it to be a process of “give-and-take” with the support from various bands, venues, sponsors, suppliers, and the growing community of people forming somewhat of a subculture around their various shows. He further notes that there has been “a growing demand for something like [what we’re trying to do] to come in and shake things up a little and bring something new.”
Micah speaks about how important it has been for them to create “shows that we wanted to attend, to bring down the kinds of bands that we want to see on an international level, and now curating the kind of festival that we would want to go to, where music is really at the forefront.” In this light, Simon briefly sketches the detail that goes into each event; how they make sure the artwork for the event is suitable, that the lighting and projections are fitting for each band, and that the sound is faultless. Having good sound is SO paramount to the team, so much so that they even spent time with the various sound techs to get familiar with the specific kind of music that was being showcased. Simon is tentative when comparing it to the process of forming a ‘considered brand from start to finish,’ and I can understand why he hesitates to do so. It may be callous to reduce the efforts to just creating ‘a considered brand’ when the truth is the particular kind of atmosphere that they ensure permeates a space. It’s testament to the collective’s hard work and dedication for this atmosphere to have become a staple at each of their events.
Overall, Endless Daze will see twenty-four South African acts and a couple foreign headliners come together for a weekend of exactly the kind of great music that they love in the perfect setting. Given that the space is relatively small – reaching cap at 2500 people – they will no doubt have managed to maintain their existing ideals that have been with them since the inception of the night in 2012. They share that getting to this point “has happened quite organically” and that it feels like it came at the right time and is happening at the right place. They seem keen to grow the community they already serve “and to draw in people from outside the usual Psych Night scene”, with Simon and Mike speaking about how the response has been overwhelmingly positive across a broader spectrum of people, with more and more strangers (for now) getting involved and showing interest.
The increasing newcomer attendance speaks directly to the diversity of the music found in the global psych scene as a whole. Having brought down some fairly big globally-recognised names in the past, Psych Night has managed to build up a level of trust with their audience and get the events to a particular point where the festival provides the perfect opportunity for them to book slightly more obscure and unknown foreign bands that the guys believe “fit the vibe” perfectly, namely The KVB (UK) and Froth (USA). Mike notes that while it was a risk, they are “very aware that as soon as anyone hears or sees them, they will definitely catch onto them very quickly.”
The bulk of the excellent line-up is still made of a wide array of strong South African psych acts, ranging from BCUC to Kalahari Surfers through to Felix LaBand and Medicine Boy. But the selection has not been easy, with acts painstakingly being chosen and carefully curated so that they “create a really smooth progression through the music.” As such, progression, quality and diversity were absolutely critical during the selection process, with Micah referencing the massive sonic diversity of Vancouver’s Levitation festival, which had both Flying Lotus and Tycho, beaming as beacons of the multiplicity of the loosely definable kinda-genre.
One of their hopes is to reach out into the rich – and more obscure – musical tapestries of neighbouring countries on the continent and beyond.
Psych Night is about building relationships and extending their family ties far and wide. It is in the spaces they create and through their collective effort that cross-pollination and collaboration are cultivated, with the hope that there will be more non-local bands lining up to play and more global audiences interested in attending. The festival also affords the opportunity for new and existing local bands to have a safe and supportive space to deliver more alternative music to audiences receptive to unique sounds, and also for them to build their confidence on and for festival stages.
It is here that Micah acknowledges that club environments can be quite overwhelming and counter-production for new bands, considering all the noise and drunk people. Being able to get them outside where the audience is “just sitting on the grass listening to the band” will hopefully allow them to “find their feet and realise that they are not meant for doing club shows and all of that, and that this is the platform that they need to be working on.”
For the bands known to the organisers on a personal level, they have been encouraged to really push the boundaries of what they have done before and create something really unique and special for the festival, tailoring their sound to fit this new environment. Vans are also on board, once again, as Psych Night’s ever-supportive partner in putting on these excellent shows, with the relationship between them being described as an ‘incredibly positive one for both sides.” Vans have recently expressed interest in scaling down the number of shows they do “and focusing on a few bigger events,” with Endless Daze obviously being one of them.
Overall, the members of the festival team are hyper aware that the creation of any scene relies on building and sustaining long-term relationships. They are grateful that the psychedelic/psych rock global community has always been very supportive of one another, and they are mindful that each and every connection brings something unique to the table. It is the congregation and arrangement of these various components and people that has made Endless Daze the next logical step in a passion-project that has taken on some serious legs.
There is no expectation for them to be slowing down anytime soon, with more inner city club tours planned and the festival expected to become an increasingly certain and exciting annual event. Their focus, moving forward, is to build upon the experience rather than the numbers, in an attempt to keep it as inimitable and immersive as possible.
Endless Daze takes place from the 11 – 13 November at Silwerstroom Resort. Full-weekend passes are available at R500 through their website and all festival details can be found on their Facebook event page here and tickets are available on their website: endlessdazefest.com.